COMPUTERS & TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE
Technology is incorporated across the curriculum beginning in kindergarten where basic keyboarding skills are taught. Computer games are also used to re-enforce math, problems solving and other skills.
The school utilizes Chromebooks on a portable charging cart, which can be used for computer class, typing skills, and other class work throughout the day.
Kindergarten through fifth grade students have computer class once a week. Sixth through eighth grade students have computer class twice a week. They learn how to use Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, OneNote, Outlook, Movie Maker, and other software tools. They also learn about and use the many resources provided by Google’s wide variety of applications and educational tools.
MIDDLE SCHOOL TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE
In fall of 2007, St. Michael added an initiative, which continues today. That Initiative provided a laptop computer for each middle school student for use in all subject areas. This was an innovative way to mesh technology with curriculum that few schools are able to offer at the time. Today, laptops have now become Google Chromebooks and the availability of technology has grown from the middle school program to all grades and all subject areas.
- Support and sustain students work both at school and at home by eliminating disparities between home and school in terms of software and hardware. (short term)
- Seamless integration of technology into all aspects of the curriculum. (long term)
- Distinguish St. Michael Lutheran middle school program from other schools in the area
- Facilitate differentiated learning
- Provide a more challenging curriculum
- Help students improve their technology and information processing skills, preparing students for higher education and jobs in the technology-driven global economy
- Provide crucial support for constructivist instructional practices and motivate students to become self-directed learners.
- Help students stay organized and on track with school work
At the beginning of sixth grade, students are oriented to their Chromebooks and introduced to Google Mail (calendaring and task management) and document sharing capabilities within Google Apps. Teachers and students can easily share assignments and other information with one another.
After these two new tools are introduced the technology course shifts to mostly project-based learning requiring the use of multiple tools to create multiple deliverables. Additional tools will be introduced within the context of the projects.
During the fourth and fifth-grade computer class, almost all work is done in class. The Chromebook program allows some work to be done outside of class for middle school. In middle school, there is less emphasis on Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. It is used enough to maintain or improve the typing skills learned in second through fifth grade.
In addition, the Chromebooks are used throughout the curriculum for note-taking and other assignments. Presentations are delivered using the Chromebooks during the annual Living History Night and the annual Science Fair. Science probes and microscopes are available that work with the Chromebooks. The eighth-grade history is taught from the Chromebooks exclusively; with no textbook.
There are Michigan Educational Technology Standards (METS) for pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. The sixth – eighth-grade standards can be found at http://techplan.edzone.net/METS/METS200968.pdf.
Every school in Michigan has a requirement to report the percentage of eighth-grade students meeting the state’s definition of technology literacy. Our middle school technology initiative program allows us to not only meet but exceed these requirements. One of our recent graduates passed a high school test-out exam for the required high school computer course. This test was a six-hour exam with three parts; typing (using proper fingering, posture, and 35 WPM or better), multiple-choice, and a multi-part project requiring the use of Outlook (email), Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access. All of the graduating eighth-grade students have the ability to pass this test had they been required to take it.